Whose Story Is This, Anyway?


When a donor gives you a gift something very important has happened.  Your organization has become part of her life.

It’s also true that she has become part of your organization’s life.  And unfortunately, that’s what most organizations focus on.  They say things like, “Thank you for partnering with us as we …”  Or they’ll solemnly say, “Your partnership helps us to complete our mission to…”

From the donor’s perspective, that’s a pretty big miss.

You’ll raise a lot more money if you adopt the posture that your organization is part of the donor’s story – not the other way around.

When your donor opens your communications, do you know what she’s hoping for?  Your donor is hoping that some organization – finally – will tell her a story that has her in it.  She doesn’t really want to hear a story about you.

She’s thinking, “If you’re just going to talk about yourself, leave me alone.  Don’t waste my time.”

In your communications with donors, are you talking about her?  About what she can do with her gift?  About what she has done with her gifts?  Or are you talking about all the stuff you’ve been busy doing?

Listen, at a donor-centric organization you’ll never hear the phrase, “We have to tell them what we’ve been doing!”  You’d hear something more like, “We have to show our donors what they and their gifts have done!”

You’ll know you’ve really embraced donor centricity when a phrase like “We have to tell our donors what we’ve been doing” sounds self-centered and awkward.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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